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Animal welfare Standards – Newsworthy

The phrase ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ must be one of the world’s most misleading maxims. With animal welfare standards an increasing issue of concern for consumers and stakeholders, the pressure is on for livestock producers.  Animal ethics is becoming a less than avoidable matter for public relations.

An example of this is  Tyson foods  who this week announced it will be using video as a way of monitoring its livestock.  The will be to show it is ensuring safety and welfare of its chickens. Only few years ago Tyson received bad publicity when it was revealed cruel treatment of animals on company premises.

Also indicating a shift in favour of humane animal treatment,  international bodies are agreeing on best practices for global ethical standards.  This past month, at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) general assembly in Paris, delegates came together to vote, agreeing to these.  The organization will create an animal welfare research committee, as well as increase education for those involved in vetinary care. ¹  At the same time experts from the meat and livestock industry  met to kick start a new EU best practice initiative.  This  is with regards to animal health and welfare.

Further research that suggests that animal welfare is a growing consideration comes from poll conducted for the RSPCA UK, with a high proportion of people saying it is. However, a lot more people seem to underestimate the proportion of farms that actually meet standards.  48% thought that the eggs, meat and fish consumed came from farms meeting the RSPA’s standards when in fact only 4% do.

This came as Theresa May’s re-election manifesto backfired in the UK.  People seem to have rejected the plan to bring back fox hunting, among other things. However, this has not seemed to affected UK’s reputation for high farm quality produce.  At least that is what government minister Michael Gove was hoping when talking up UK’s trade potential recently.

Meanwhile, over the other side of the Atlantic, Chicken and Poultry welfare is being protected.   According to S.E. Smith of Care 2, some egg producers attempted to challenge legislation.  The state of California passed laws to cut down on bad treatment of livestock in 2008.  It states that all farm animals should be able to ‘turn around, lie down and move their limbs’.  It also banned housing animals in cramped cages.  The court rejected the challenge

This all suggests that animal welfare standards are being perceived as important.  However, there is still more to achieve to ensure that profit doesn’t come at its expense.

What do you think? How can we encourage animal welfare and increase awareness?

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¹The OIE is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for promoting animal health worldwide.  Its website is a valuable resource and includes a searchable database for documents, journal articles. reports and conferences.


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